I was talking the other day with a teacher friend about how other teachers make them perceive themselves. They were reflecting on how a new colleague in their school seemed to be so on top of things compared to their own practice. As I find many teachers are prone to doing, they were beating themselves up about how this person compared to them.
In discussing this it became apparent that one of the main things that made them feel this way was the immaculate state of their classroom and the excellent, learning focused displays.
It is easy to look on other peoples practice and feel inadequate, everyone can seem to be more on top of things than you, but often it really comes down to your priorities. Everyone has a mental list of what they think is most important in their practice, the problem is that it is easy to think everyone else is working from the same list that you are.
Take this new member of staff, their list may look something like the one below.
They are obviously doing well in the top two areas, but it has to be remembered that these are their highest priorities. Perhaps by the third item on the list they feel they are still working to master things.
However, this person could look very different when viewed from outside by someone whose internal list looks like this:
The problem is that this person sees the fantastic looking classroom and presumes that the person in question has already dealt with all the things that they personally give a higher priority. It is easy to assume that if the classroom looks great the learner independence is high and the planning is excellent. Not necessarily.
In fact, the tidy and organised teacher may well still be working on things which the other has more mastery of, and feels are more important.
So, before you start beating yourself up, remember to define what you think is most important to your practice. You can’t be perfect at everything, so it is vital to define what your priorities and values are. Do this and you might find you measure up better than you thought.